Garrity's Saturday Stakes picks races at Monmouth, Belmont, Churchill Downs and Santa Anita
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Garrity's Saturday Stakes picks races at Monmouth, Belmont, Churchill Downs and Santa Anita

Garrity's first post is 4:55 pm EDT.

It’s a mixed bag of stakes action on this late sprint Saturday, with bettable races in New York, Kentucky, the Jersey Shore, and out West, where it’s California Gold Rush day at Santa Anita. Add it up and we have five plays in five races, all of them stakes. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all races, so let’s go.

Monmouth Park, Race 11, 4:55 pm ET

$100,000 Cliff Hanger Stakes 1 1/17 miles, Turf, 3 & Up

Ten line up for the Cliff Hanger at the Jersey Shore. We like a runner at a decent price, 3-Kentucky Ghost, who gets enormous class relief in this spot, having run in a Grade 1 and Grade 3 race, at Churchill Downs and Keeneland respectively, in his last two starts. He will like the fact that the horses he faces today are nowhere near as tough as those he has been facing, and he should also appreciate that the presence of a couple of speed horses in today’s field should produce a race shape that favors his stretch-running style. Look for Kentucky Ghost to be well back early, but first where it matters; we will be him to win at 8-1. The bet: Monmouth Park, Race 11, $35 to win on 3-Kentucky Ghost.

Belmont Park, Race 9, 5:12 pm ET

Grade 3 Soaring Softly Stakes, 7 furlongs, Turf, 3-Year-Old Fillies

A deep field of twelve 3-year-old fillies makes the Soaring Softly the day’s best betting race. The lack of speed in the group has us liking a price, 4-Wish You Well, who has yet to race on grass, having run on dirt in both of her starts to date, but she has a decent turf pedigree, and who has enough natural early speed to get a favorable, forwardly-placed trip in this spot. Pace is important in every race, of course, but it is doubly important on turf, and triply important in turf sprints; we think this race will be a good example why, as we think the projected race shape makes Wish You Well the best bet, even though she is nowhere near the most talented filly in the field. We will bet her to win at 12-1. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 9, $40 to win on 4-Wish You Well.

Churchill Downs, Race 10, 5:26 pm ET

$160,000 Keertana Overnight Stakes, 1 ½ miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up

The Keertana is a turf marathon for older females, our kind of race, and it drew a deep and competitive field of ten. The pick is 5-Federalist Papers, a well-bred 4-year-old filly from trainer Chad Brown. While she is light in experience, with just seven career starts and no stakes wins, she has the looks to us of a late bloomer, a filly on the come, and we like the fact that she is proven at the distance, as she comes off a win in a 12-furlong Keeneland turf allowance. To win this, she will have to run better than she did last time, but Brown is not a dummy, and understands that; The fact that he placed her here, rather than in another allowance race, suggests that he thinks she is ready. That is enough for us: we will bet her to win at 6-1. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 10, $40 to win on 5-Federalist Papers.

Santa Anita Park, Race 5, 6:10 pm ET

$150,000 Snow Chief Stakes, 1 ⅛ miles, Turf, California-bred 3-Year-Olds

A field of six lines up for the Snow Chief. 5-Worse Read Sanchez appears to have the most natural ability as a turf runner, but he is a closer, and the question is whether there the race will feature a fast enough early pace to set up his late run. This is always an important question in a turf race, but it is doubly so in a race with a small field, as a paucity of runners makes a slow pace, and a race shape unfavorable to come-from-behinders, more likely.

But we think that in this case, the presence of 4-Bally’s Charm and 6-Smugglers Run, both of whom have high early speed, should produce rapid early fractions swift enough to set the table for Worse Read Sanchez, and that makes him the pick. We will bet Worse Read Sanchez to win at 5/2. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 5, $35 to win on 5-Worse Read Sanchez.

Santa Anita Park, Race 8, 7:45 pm ET

$150,000 Melair Stakes, 1 1/16 Miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Old Fillies

Sophomore Cal-bred fillies, a half dozen of them, like up for the Melair Stakes. The small field size is one of the reasons we like 5-It’s Simple, who has sprinter’s speed, should get the early lead comfortably, and who, we think, is going to be very difficult to catch. We think she wires this group, and that makes her 6-1 morning line number very attractive. We will bet her to win. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 8, $35 to win on 5-It’s Simple.

That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the races, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.

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